August 5, 2021

How not to lose $36m in a copper trade scam

Spending $36m would pave twice the area of Vatican City, at retail prices. These funds could buy paving slabs for approximately one million square metres, depending on the quality. Alternatively, with more paperwork, legal trouble, and an element of organised crime, this money could buy pavers for a few hundred metres squared, but with a lovely coppery glow. 

So, here’s the story: after purchasing 6,000 tons of blister copper, commodities trader Mercuria arranged for shipment to China. The seller, Turkish trader Bietsan, organised shipment and insurance from Istanbul. As the 300 containers left Turkey, Mercuria paid for the copper over five instalments in August 2020.

In the same month, the shipments began arriving in China. Their recipients…

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